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May 17, 2005

Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center

In 2000, the Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center was founded as a joint venture with Brigham & Women’s Hospital , Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare System. Situated at Brigham and Women's Hospital, it is an integral part of our Center for Neurologic Diseases.

Mscenter1_4 Left to right in the group photo are Audrey Cecil LicSW, Emily Amunwa, Philip De Jager MD, Maria Houtchens MD, Mira Weiner, Bonnie Glanz PhD, Howard Weiner MD, Samia Khoury MD, Fernando Dangond MD, David Margolin MD, Sandy Cook RN, Karen Himmelberger RN, Antonios Tsagkaropoulos MD, David Rintell EdD, Guy Buckle MD, Lynn Stazzone NP, David Dawson MD. (Click on the photograph for a larger view)

Led by Howard Weiner, MD and Samia Khoury, MD, the Center has become internationally known as a leader in the care of patients and in the research of multiple sclerosis.  The Center has three unique capabilities that will allow us to further the care and research of Multiple Sclerosis: 1) a clinical facility that has 6,000 patient visits a year, making it the largest practice in the country, and includes staffing by neuropsychologists for cognitive testing; 2) an infusion center with 8-chair capacity and a staff of dedicated infusion nurses and on-site pharmacist, 3) a dedicated 3.0 T magnet and imaging facility specifically for MS patients headed by Dr. Charles Guttman and Dr. Rohit Bakshi; and 4) a clinical immunology facility directed by Dr. Samia Khoury.  What is truly exciting is that the total capacity of the MS Center is 8,320 patient visits per year and 3,500 MRI scans per year.

Since its creation, Partners MS Center has served as a model that is being replicated in other hospitals in the U.S. and around the world. 

MS Center Staff:

Physicians

Guy Buckle, MD

Rohit Bakshi, MD      

Tanuja Chitnis, MD      

Fernando Dangond, MD

Philip Dejager, MD, Ph.D                    

David Dawson, MD

Susan Gauthier, DO      

David Hafler, MD      

Maria Houtchens, M.D.   

David Margolin, MD

Samia Khoury, MD      

Howard Weiner, MD    

Nurse Practitioner

Lynn Stazzone, NP

Research Nurses

Michelle Bikowski, RN            Sandra Cook, RN            Karen Himmelberger, RN

Infusion Room Staff

Becky Dodge, RN       Debra Kelly Regan, RN            Deborah Salvato, RN            Rosa Vasquez

Physical Therapist

Regina Campbell, PT

LICSW

Audrey Cecil

Neuropsychologist

Bonnie Glanz, PhD

Clinical Psychologists

David Rintell, EdD

Research Coordinators

Emily Delf             Laura Magid  Mira Weiner

Clinical trials

The MS center has been on the cutting edge of clinical research and a leader in clinical trials. Several clinical trials are ongoing at the center, these include:

I. Natural History Study

The Harvard Multiple Sclerosis Natural History Study is a large scale, longitudinal study designed to investigate the natural history of multiple sclerosis (MS). The aims of the study are to identify predictors of clinical course in MS and to determine the effects of treatment interventions. One thousand participants will be enrolled and followed over a 10-year period.

All participants will have neurological exams, MRI, and blood testing annually. They will also complete quality of life and mood questionnaires annually. Participants who are untreated or about to begin one of the standard MS treatments may be asked to participate in the Immunology Group of the Natural History Study. These participants will be asked to give additional blood samples. Participants with early MS or those who have been diagnosed with MS in the last two years may be asked to participate in the Newly Diagnosed Group of the Natural History Study. Newly diagnosed participants will have cognitive evaluations designed to measure impairments in attention, concentration, and memory.

II. Bio markers of Disease in Multiple Sclerosis

This study is designed to determine whether there are certain genes that predict an individual’s degree of severity of MS, as well as how s/he may respond to various drug treatments.

This registry will be used to:

1.            Determine and validate markers in the blood that may correlate with the onset, progression and severity of MS

2.            Determine and validate markers in the blood that may correlate with patient’s responses to drug therapy.

III. Treatment of MS with Copaxone and Albuterol

A blinded, 2 year study to see if Copaxone + Albuterol induces more changes in immune and clinical responses compared to Copaxone + placebo. Involves yearly MRI, and immunology blood work every 3-6 months.

IV. Safety Study of One Dose of CTLA4Ig in the Treatment of MS

A phase one study to assess the safety of a one time IV dose of CTLA4Ig. The hypothesis is that it will arrest the disease if given early in RR MS and therefore decrease lesions on

V. Open Label Study of Safety and Efficacy of Oral Interferon Tau

A phase two study to test safety and efficacy of once daily oral dose of interferon tau (a liquid), taken for 9 months. Three screen MRIs with one needing to be Gad positive for subject to receive treatment. Involves MRI and immunology blood work.

Pediatric MS

Even though MS is rare in children,  cases of pediatric MS are known to occur and have to be distinguished from cases of Acute disseminated encepohalomyelitis and recurrent ADEM. Dr. Tanuja Chitnis head the pediatric MS team and runs a pediatric MS clinic at MGH once per month.

Genetics of MS

The Partners Multiple Sclerosis Center has launched a major new initiative over the past year in the investigation of the role of genetics in MS. The recent sequencing of the human genome and our improved understanding of human genetic variation have opened vast new avenues of research into genetic susceptibility to diseases such as MS. The MS Center effort, led by Drs. David Hafler and Philip De Jager, is at the forefront of this new field of investigation. Over the next five years, they and an international group of collaborators will attempt to identify which one of the 500,000 common variations in the human genome are associated with increased risk of MS. The essential first step of the project is the collection of DNA from subjects, and over 500 subjects were recruited over the past year. In parallel, the analysis of some DNAs has begun and has already identified one novel area of a chromosome that contributes to the risk of developing MS. This exciting project is evolving rapidly and will, in time, help to make genetic analysis a routine part of MS care; genetics has the potential to bring a new set of tools to the clinic, helping physicians to manage the disease and select treatments.

Posted by Galina Slezinger on May 17, 2005 at 12:29 PM in Program Profiles | Permalink

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Comments

The MS Center must be terribly understaffed and is poorly run. I have a family member who has been a patient there for nearly 5 years. The first 4 years, she received excellent patient care and attention to her needs. Whenever she had symptoms, the physician assigned to her (they didn't vary until Dr. Gauthier left)or the NP would call back within 24 hours. After having an allergic reaction, with significant changes in her Rebif injection sites, no one has returned her call in 13 days. Correction- one physician (who didn't leave their name) called at 4:35 a week ago and got voicemail at the home number on file, said this is the MS center, and that was it. Didn't call the mobile number that was given with the messages left every day, specifically because mobile was best number to call.

Whatever is going on at the MS center needs to be addressed. I called and left a message for the practice manager, who never called me or the patient back. The NP has yet to call. We even contacted Dr. Gauthier in NY, and she left a message for the NP to no avail. Now, 2 weeks without Rebif, the patient doesn't know what to do and no one will call to instruct her. Can they take awards of excellence away for bad management?

Posted by: Virginia Barker | Oct 1, 2007 7:53:43 PM

While this is an old post, I see the comment left in 2007 echoes my experience with this facility. 6 calls to get an Rx sent to a retail pharmacy in town, with loads of attitude for my persistence. Then I get questioned as to what Target pharmacy's fax number is- retail pharmacies do not give patients that information, a fact confirmed by two different pharmacists for me.
Then, the dose was incorrect; another 6 calls. One month without baclofen, making walking impossible, and angry callbacks asking me why I'm not taking it. Because no one can seem to make sure the fax went through!
Same issue for my Rebif, for the scheduling of IVSM. My doctor laughed at me today for asking about Ampyra. Every time she calls me back, it's robotic- even though I leave detailed messages, it's as though they aren't being communicated, she seems to be blind to my call reason and angry at having to call me.
It's absolutely horrible, and if this is one of "the best" MS centers in the country, I fear the standards have dipped to a level never-before seen in specialty medicine.

Imagine if this was a cancer center! This wouldn't be allowed to happen for so long.

Posted by: Amanda | Apr 12, 2010 6:04:27 PM

The Multiple Sclerosis Center is an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan to help patients properly manage multiple sclerosis,and it focus on all aspects of the disease,so the details you share,is really good and great to read,and also the things you share about it,with great peace of details,so this is really usfeul and helpful to see,great to allocate.

Posted by: Dissertation help | Mar 4, 2011 6:24:09 AM

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